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Senate restores some funds to Health and Human Services

Still not clear how they’re paying for any of it yet.

The Senate Finance Committee voted Thursday to restore a less-than-expected $4.3 billion in health spending in 2012-13 but promised to try to find more money in the coming weeks.

The panel adopted most of the recommendations made recently by the Medicaid subcommittee, including a widely sought provision reversing a planned 10 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements for doctors and dentists.

Advocates had feared the cuts would force many physicians, already operating on thin margins, to stop seeing Medicaid patients.

But the committee held off on plans to reduce steep cuts to nursing home and hospital reimbursement rates despite fears that the action would force nursing homes to close and hospitals to pass higher costs on to other patients.

The Medicaid subcommittee, led by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, supported spending almost $540 million to limit rate cuts to 2 percent for nursing homes and 3 percent for hospitals.

But Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, backed away, saying the expense was too great — for now. “I don’t know yet how to pay for that,” he said.

Better figure it out fast. And it would be nice if we could find some ways to pay for it that aren’t one-time deals so that we don’t dig ourselves an even deeper hole for next time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for the Senate to pull this off and make things a little less horrible. With the House busy slashing and burning, I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

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